Women, baby boomers supplement more often
Almost 3-in-4 women surveyed supplement their diets (74%) versus 65% of men, and 81% of consumers older than 55 years reported supplementing versus 72% of consumers between the ages of 35 years and 54 years, according to an online survey of more than 900 AccentHealth viewers conducted in late 2012. As many as 70% of the generation of respondents between the ages of 18 years and 34 years reported they take vitamins and/or supplements.
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Source: AccentHealth. To view the demographic breakdown of participants, click here.
Walmart bests forecasts amid soft sales
BENTONVILLE, Ark. — Walmart saw a diminutive 1% increase in same-store sales at U.S. stores, but beat analyst estimates and delivered better-than-expected fourth-quarter profits, the company announced Thursday.
Walmart said total sales increased 3.9% to $127.1 billion compared to $122.3 billion last year. Without the benefit of a favorable currency exchange situation, sales would have increased a lesser 3.7% to $126.8 billion. Full year sales increased by 5% to $466.1 billion compared to last year’s total of $443.8.
Fourth-quarter profits increased 7.9% to $5.6 billion and earnings per share of $1.67 were 10.6% higher than the $1.51 reported the prior year and well ahead of the company’s guidance and analysts’ consensus estimate. Walmart had forecast profits in a range of $1.53 to $1.58 and analysts were looking for $1.57.
"Walmart topped off a really good year with a solid fourth quarter, and I’m proud of what we accomplished as a team," said Mike Duke, president and CEO of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. Every day our associates around the world deliver on our mission to help customers save money so they can live better. Together, we added $22 billion in sales to top $466 billion. Walmart U.S. was a key driver of our 5% sales increase."
The 1% U.S. comp increase was at the low end of a forecast range which called for a 1% to 3% increase and a slow start to the first quarter has the company forecasting flat same store sales.
To offset the deceleration in U.S. comps, which can be attributed to a range of external economic pressures, Walmart highlighted its volume growth and market share gains. The company said its U.S. division added more than $10 billion in net sales last year, including $4.7 billion as a result of same store sales growth. The company said it gained share in categories such as food, consumables, health and wellness, entertainment and toys.
"Despite comps at the low end of the guidance, our market share gains, as noted by Nielsen and NPD, along with our two-year positive comp trend indicates the underlying strength of Walmart’s business," said Walmart U.S. president and CEO Bill Simon. "Comp sales grew by 1% for the quarter, lapping a solid 1.5% comp last year. This represented $743 million in comp growth for the quarter."
Looking ahead, Walmart faces a challenging comparison against a first-quarter 2012 U.S. comp increase of 2.6% and a variety of headwinds such as increased gas prices and reductions in take home pay. Against this backdrop, Simon expressed confidence that the company’s familiar low price strategy will continue to resonate with shoppers.
However, a slow start to February caused largely by a delay in tax refunds has dimmed enthusiasm for the first-quarter and resulted in a flat same store sales forecast.
"We continue to monitor economic conditions that can impact our sales, such as rising fuel prices, changes in inflation and the payroll tax increase," Simon said.
Reports: Analyst names Ahold as ‘most logical’ buyer of Harris Teeter
NEW YORK — Supermarket operator Ahold USA could be in a position to buy Matthews, N.C.-based supermarket chain Harris Teeter, according to published reports.
Citing remarks by BMO Capital Markets analyst Karen Short, the Wall Street Journal reported that Ahold, Publix Super Markets and Kroger Co. would be candidates for a purchase of Harris Teeter, with Ahold named as the most logical candidate due to an acquisitive nature and a desire to enter the southern United States.
Last Thursday, Harris Teeter confirmed reports in the Journal that it had been approached by two private equity firms and was exploring strategic options.